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Located on Chicago's South Side, the Velvet Lounge is one of the city's longest-running jazz clubs. Hundreds of established modern jazz musicians have played in the club, leading to its reputation as "dusty epicenter of Midwest's free form jazz scene.
Until his death, saxophonist Fred Anderson kept the Chicago club going almost single-handedly for nearly a quarter century — as club owner, sometimes-bartender, and resident mentor. Passers-by would hardly suspect it, but Anderson's divey Velvet Lounge, its bleak black facade crowned by a tattered "Old Style" beer sign, is known by aficionados worldwide as one of the cradles of contemporary jazz. Dozens of acclaimed albums have been recorded at the club, including a series of live recordings featuring Anderson himself on the Delmark label.
The Velvet Lounge relocated in 2006 since the old venue was slated to be torn down and replaced by condominiums. The new location is only a block away from the old venue.
Many prominent musicians have honed their jazz abilities by playing at the Velvet Lounge early in their careers, particularly in the Sunday night jam sessions. Over the years, the sessions have been hosted by various prominent Chicago musicians. The classic lineup of the early-mid 1990s featured trumpeter Billy Brimfield, saxophonist Art Taylor, pianist Jim Baker, bassist Mike Cristol, and drummer Ajaramu (Gerald Donovan). Since the early 1990s, the "Velvet Graduates" who have come up through the Velvet scene include tenor saxophonist David Boykin, baritone saxophonist Aaron Getsug, alto saxophonist Greg Ward II, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, and drummer Isaiah Spencer.
- The Official Chicago Bar Guide, 2001.
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